Increased muscle strength
A systematic review identified eleven trials investigating the effects of exercise interventions on gait ability in those with frailty. Six studies revealed improvements in gait after the physical training period, whereas five studies demonstrated no improvement. Three of the studies that demonstrated improvements used multi-component exercise programs, two studies used only resistance exercises, and one study used endurance training combined with yoga. The mean improvement in gait ranged from 4% to 50% (13).
A meta-analysis found no effects upon gait speed (n= 3 studies, SMD -0.06 (CI -0.49 to 0.37), moderate heterogeneity) or timed up and go speed (n = 2 studies, SMD 0.57 (CI -0.01 to 1.16), low heterogeneity), but significant differences in muscle strength (n = 4, SMD 0.44 (CI 0.11 to 0.77)), moderate heterogeneity) and balance (n = 3 studies, SMD 0.33 (CI 0.08 to 0.57), low heterogeneity)) were observed. Included studies were generally small and low quality, with short follow-ups and focused on observed physical functioning outcomes (9).
Thirteen studies investigated the effects of exercise interventions on lower-body muscle strength. Nine studies revealed increased muscle strength after the physical training period, whereas four studies did not identify any improvement. Five of the studies that demonstrated enhanced strength used resistance exercise programs, and four studies used multi-component exercise interventions. The mean increase in strength ranged from 6% to 60% (13).
Ten studies investigated the effects of exercise interventions on balance. Eight of the investigations revealed enhanced balance after the physical training period, whereas two studies did not demonstrate any improvement. Seven of the studies with balance improvements used multi-component exercise programs that included balance training, and one study included Tai Chi exercises. The mean improvement in balance ranged from 5% to 80% (13).
Quality of evidence
Strength of recommendation
Group exercise may produce some benefits to physical functioning, in particular strength and balance, but conclusions limited by moderate heterogeneity. Exercise prescriptions that start slow and are then gradually titrated to continually deliver a training stimulus in the form of volume, intensity and complexity will be most effective.
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